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04/07

Press comment: Brexit and financial planning

If you are covering the impact of the EU referendum result on financial planning, please see the following commentary from Old Mutual Wealth. 

Included in the commentary are comments from pensions technical expert Jon Greer on the impact on overseas pensions (QROPS) and the state pension; retirement planning expert Adrian Walker on pension tax relief; and financial planning expert Rachael Griffin on the consequences for non-doms and wills and estates planning.

The consequences of the referendum result for personal financial planning will be wide-ranging and many outcomes will likely remain unclear for some time. The comments are not a comprehensive review of the impact of Brexit, but provide a flavour of some of the consequences for the personal finance sector.

QROPS

Old Mutual Wealth pension technical expert Jon Greer says:

Jon Greer

“QROPS were first introduced 10 years ago after EU legislation forced the UK to formalise its process of allowing people to transfer their pension to a different jurisdiction. Prior to this change, members had to gain HMRC approval on a case by case basis, a process that was complex and potentially lengthy. A QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) is a pension scheme established outside the UK that is broadly similar to a UK registered pension scheme.

“The opportunity to move assets into a QROPS offers real flexibility to those who are intending to leave the UK permanently and wish to simplify their affairs by taking their pension with them.

“The future of QROPS is very much dependant on what the UK Government decides to do in relation to Article 50, and whether the UK will stay a member of the EEA. Market speculation around whether we will see a ‘closing down sale’ for QROPS is understandable, but it is perhaps more likely some modifications to the existing rules will be made so that the option to transfer to a QROPS will continue to be available in some form. For example, the HMRC may look to only allow members to transfer their QROPS to a jurisdiction where they live, removing the ability for members to select the most favourable jurisdiction to hold their pension.

“The Government may also want to preserve the benefits QROPS brings to the pension system in today’s transient market place. Attracting offshore investment and entrepreneurs to the UK, and giving them choice and flexibility when it comes to their pension saving will remain a priority for the Government.

“However, it is a real possibility the rules surrounding QROPS may change in the future, and advisers with clients considering transferring to a QROPS should encourage them to consider their plans sooner rather than later.” 

Non-doms

Old Mutual Wealth financial planning expert Rachael Griffin says:

Rachael Griffin

“The UK government had previously announced plans to change the way that long term UK resident non-domiciles are taxed. Non-domicile status means individuals can benefit from the remittance basis of taxation, allowing them to live in the UK without paying UK tax on assets and earnings held overseas, unless remitted here.

“Those that are non-domiciled for tax purposes do not fall under the UK’s inheritance tax laws unless they have been in the UK for 17 of the last 20 years.

To access the remittance basis of taxation individuals must pay between £30,000 and £90,000 to the UK HMRC, known as the remittance basis charge.

“The rules were a big focus in the 2015 election, with some arguing that it is unfair to tax individuals at UK rates on money they have earned elsewhere, while others argue that non-doms benefit from living in the UK without contributing a fair amount of tax.

“Last year Chancellor George Osborne pledged to reform non-dom rules. The government planned to stop people living in the UK for decades without ever becoming subject to UK tax on their overseas wealth. The plan is that an individual that has lived in the UK for 15 out of the last 20 years should be deemed domicile for all UK taxes, with the rules to be changed from April 2017. So someone living in the UK for 16 or more years between 1997 and 2017 would have to become UK domiciled for all tax purposes.

“In the current climate, however, it is possible this may be delayed.  We know we will see a change of leadership in the current government and an incoming Prime Minister may decide that it is not the time to be introducing complex measures that risk discouraging people from residing in the UK.”

Pension Tax relief

Adrian WalkerOld Mutual Wealth retirement planning expert Adrian Walker says:

“Pension tax relief has been a subject of much debate over the last year, with George Osborne’s Treasury rumoured to be interested in curbing tax benefits for higher-earners, in favour of a universal flat-rate of pension tax relief across the board.

“The plans were debated in a government consultation last year but were put on hold, reportedly because the government was nervous about pushing ahead with controversial pension reforms before the EU referendum was over.

“Now that a Leave vote has been cast by the public, there is a big question mark over the future of pension tax relief. George Osborne has pushed through massive changes to the pension system already, many of which have been very positive, and it seemed the Treasury were keen to explore reform of tax relief. In the current climate, however, it remains to be seen whether Osborne, or any future Chancellor, feels able to press ahead with further pension reforms.

“Similarly, a radical shift to a pension Isa system also now seems less likely. Such a reform would be a massive overhaul of the personal financial system, and in the near-term it is hard to see the government having the appetite to drive through such a divisive policy.  

“That said, introducing a flat-rate would be likely to be revenue generative for the Treasury. The overall cost of pension tax relief, including lost national insurance contributions, was nearly £50bn in 2013-14 and introducing a flat-rate would reduce the amount of money the tax-office forgoes to fund higher-rate tax relief. If the economy suffers as a result of Brexit, pension tax-relief may yet become an appealing target.

“Anyone concerned about how to fund their pension contributions efficiently should speak to a financial adviser to discuss their options.”

State pension

Old Mutual Wealth pension technical expert Jon Greer says:

“UK expats with an entitlement to the state pension currently benefit from the triple-lock if they live in the EU and some other countries, including those in the EEA. This guarantees the state pension will go up by the higher of 2.5%; wage growth; or inflation. It means pensioners can be sure the spending power of their state pension is future-proofed.

“This deal for pensioners living in the EU will have to be renegotiated as part of the Brexit process. While it seems likely pensioners abroad will continue to get the same terms as those living in the UK, it is by no means guaranteed. With government likely to seek to make savings going forward, it is not impossible they may curb the benefits available to those retired abroad.

“Equally, the triple lock is an expensive protection for pensioners and may be under threat altogether if the UK economy suffers.”

Wills and estates

Old Mutual Wealth financial planning expert Rachael Griffin says:

“Most EU countries have adopted legislation that affects how an individual’s estate is divided up when they die.

“Under the legislation, known as Brussels IV, it is agreed that the rules from the country in which the individual was ‘habitually resident’ will dictate how their estate is divided up.

“This is important because the rules differ from country to country. For example many apply forced heirship, meaning you have to pass a certain portion of your money to your children.

“While currently part of the EU, the UK has not adopted the legislation, but it is still important for people to remember they could be affected. If you’re retired in Europe or have a European passport, you may be deemed ‘habitually resident’ outside the UK and if you own property abroad you will be caught by the legislation if that country has adopted Brussels IV.

“Nearly half a million cross-border estates are divided up in Europe every year so it affects a large number of families. If you want to be sure how your money will be passed on after death, you should consider speaking to a professional adviser.”

 

For information on the consequences for the investment markets, please see commentary from Richard Buxton of Old Mutual Global Investors.

For more information contact

Tim Skelton-SmithOld Mutual Wealth02380 916 99807824 145 076tim.skelton-smith@omwealth.com
Michael GlenisterOld Mutual Wealth020 7778 963807469 144535michael.glenister@omwealth.com

Notes to Editors:

Old Mutual Wealth

Old Mutual Wealth is a leading wealth management business in the UK and internationally, helping to create prosperity for the generations of today and tomorrow.

It has an adviser and customer offering spanning:

  • Financial advice delivered by the Intrinsic network in the UK and AAM Advisory in Singapore
  • Platform based wealth management and protection products delivered by Old Mutual Wealth in the UK & Italy* and Old Mutual International globally
  • Asset management solutions delivered by Old Mutual Global Investors
  • Discretionary investment management delivered by Quilter Cheviot.

Old Mutual Wealth oversees £119 billion in customer investments (as at 30 September 2016).

Old Mutual Wealth is part of Old Mutual plc a FTSE 100 group that provides life assurance, asset management, banking and general insurance. Old Mutual is trusted by more than 19.4 million customers across the world and has a total of £342.7 billion assets under management (as at 30 June 2016).

*Old Mutual Wealth announced the sale of Old Mutual Wealth Italy to Ergo Italia on 9 August 2016. The transaction is pending completion.

This press release is for journalists only and should not be relied upon by financial advisers or customers. Investments may fall or rise in value and investors may not get back what they put in.